Thursday, April 29, 2021

Coloured views

We see the world through glasses,
Of several different colours,
Worn each upon the other,
Through which the light passes!

The colours are of our choice,
Or collected over years,
Quite a set we amass,
As we get on in years!

And now the world I see,
Is quite different from yours,
I wonder why you don't see,
What to me is clear!

Friday, April 23, 2021

काश मेरा मन करता

काश मेरा मन करता,
किसीको जाकर गले लगा लूं,
लेकिन ये कम्बक्त करोना ने,
प्यार को बैन कर दिया है।

काश मेरा  मन करता,
मैं जीवन को जीकर देखूं,
लेकिन ये कम्बक्त करोना से,
हर दिन मर जाता हूं।

काश मेरा मन करता,
किसी की हसी देखूं,
लेकिन ये कम्बक्त करोना ने,
सब का चहरा ढक दिया है।

काश मेरा मन करता,
खुली हवा में घूम आऊं,
लेकिन ये कम्बक्त करोना ने,
मुझे कैद कर दिया है।

काश मेरा मन करता,
कि मुझमे साहस जागे,
हर नियम को मैं तोड़ दूं,
और जिंदगी पूरी तरह से जी लूं।

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Better by far, to live

Can't hug, can't kiss,
Can't meet, can't greet,
Can't pray, can't work,
Need to stay at home!

Can't smile, can't breathe,
Can't talk, can't sneeze,
Can't laugh, can't move,
The very air is death!

Am scared, I fear,
All things, far and near,
I hide, I quiver,
The world is menacing!

The fear, it gnaws,
Into my very vitals,
Its icy fingers pierce,
My very being!

I die, every minute,
Every hour, a thousand deaths,
I die, every day,
From morning, to night!

Better by far, to live,
Unfettered, free,
And die only once,
When the time is nigh!

The world of Valuations

A loss of 350 crores On Revenues of half a crore, gets a valuation of 15000 crores!

VC's are vying with each other to fund companies that have a high "burn" rate.

Here , take my money, burn it!

No, no, mine, burn mine first!

No, please, me! I am a marquee money burner, having us on board will get you more money to burn!

The promoter looks around with an appraising eye, and picks one of them.

And then goes to the pavement outside and starts distributing the money. Not just like that. He uses big data, analytics, cloud computing, IOT, neural networks, AI and ML to do so. It is considered very essential to be forward looking and use the latest technological advancements to give money away.

Meanwhile the world is roiled by unrest, jobs are being lost everywhere, and there is a pandemic cutting a swathe of destruction, not as much due to the disease itself, as due to the illogical reaction of people born out of fear.

The promoter uses the opportunity of turmoil in the world, to increase his burn rate. That keeps his investors happy. They are always pressurising the promoter to be more opportunistic and seize every available opportunity to burn more money.

The investors demand more! They always do, that is in their blood, so we shall excuse them for it. Our promoter is under pressure. So he announces a paise ka dahan on the lines of Holika Dahan, and makes a bonfire of money. Not literally of course, but he uses big data, AI and ML and all the rest, to give away 100 million dollars in one night.

The investors are happy.

Meanwhile, many investors who have missed the earlier round ( Round C) are suffering from a severe case of FOMO, and demand that they be allowed to give some money. The promoter reluctantly accedes to Round C.2 for 100 million dollars of opportunity. Why C point 2, and not Round D, you ask? Well, you see, the promoter is from the software industry, and he feels that unless there is a significant jump in the technology of burning money, the fundraising should not jump to the next alphabet. He reflects deeply and is forced to concede that unless he uses Robotics, which his team is working on, to give away money, he cannot in all conscience, call it Round D.

Meanwhile the promoter becomes a folk hero in his hometown, Bangalore. He is invited to seminars where they discuss how to burn more money. His story serves as inspiration to a group of young techies who go around with matches in one hand, and a business plan in the other, hoping to catch a VC in an elevator for thirty seconds, whom  they can unleash their "elevator pitch" on. It is of course well known in start-up circles that if you want to raise funds, you need to hang around elevators, waiting for VC's to walk in.

Once, Cred, Dunzo, and Nyka promoters meet in an elevator.

The Dunzo promoter says, I lose hundred rupees for every delivery I make. Beat that!

The Cred promoter says, I lose thousand rupees every second. Beat that, and gives a smirk.

The Nyka promoter, who is a lady, looks at them pityingly. I raised Series A to F, each time increasing my valuation. And now, I am going in for an IPO! BEAT THAT!

The other two promoters concede defeat. For the IPO is the holy grail. It is where millions of people queue up to give you money to burn, and your personal  stake gets valued at over a billion, and you get invited to give Ted Talks.

Friday, April 16, 2021

The Common Man

The common man always suffers,
From a whole bunch of delusions,
He thinks that he really matters,
It is for him that the world runs!

The world runs in order to serve him,
And ensure his health and welfare -
Man always loved his illusions,
Which the powerful feed and pander!

Bread, and Circuses, are needed,
Realised the Romans of old,
Add to that now constant feeding,
Through media, and, of course, Fear!

When man is not driven by greed,
To step out and attempt great deeds,
He is by his fear constrained,
To mask himself and shackle his feet!

These two emotions run his life,
And he runs himself ragged to death,
While the ones who cause the strife,
Pander to him, for gains immense!

The Common Man

The common man always suffers,
From a whole bunch of delusions,
He thinks that he really matters,
It is for him that the world runs!

The world runs in order to serve him,
And ensure his health and welfare - 
Man always loved his illusions,
Which the powerful feed and pander!

Bread, and Circuses, are needed,
Realised the Romans  of old,
Add to that now constant feeding,
Through media, and, of course, Fear!

When man is not driven by greed,
To step out and attempt great deeds,
He is by his fear constrained,
To mask himself and shackle his feet!

These two emotions run his life,
And he runs himself ragged to death,
While the ones who cause the strife,
Pander to him, for gains immense!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

My School Whatsapp Group

We all like to visit here,
It is our pet menagerie,
Where all kinds of animals reside,
Strutting their idiosyncracies!

There is the elephant who walks,
Of long memory, teller of tales,
There is the parrot who screeches,
Whenever anybody speeches*!

There is the baboon who screams,
Dekh loonga tum sub saalon ko,
There is the hippo whose skin is,
So thick it refuses to get poked!

There is flighty wafflebird,
Who always flies on a tangent,
There is the much feared lioness,
Who kills her prey with her arguments!

There is the cheeky rainbow bird,
Who pulls the rabbit out of a hat,
With colorful past and plumage,
Who holds the lioness in high esteem!

There is the sesquipedalian,
Walrus who holds long discourse,
What he says no one understands,
For he can be a tad verbose!

There's  the badger who's dug himself in,
In remote faraway fields,
Who likes to talk about politics,
When he is not busy farming!

There is a raucous nightingale,
Who fancies himself to be a bard,
There is a sluggish pompous whale,
Who is never amused, harrumphing!

The dormouse opens a single eye,
Keeping guard through his slumber,
The wolf peeks out from his lair,
To pounce when the time is right!

The frog patiently sits and  listens,
And asks questions of one and all,
The crane mostly sleeps but is waiting,
To swoop down and give battle!

The owl watches from his lofty perch,
Disdaining all the goings on,
The cricket just gives his commentary,
Doesn't miss anything at all!

The fox has donned a new avatar,
Goes around preaching to one and all,
The sloth listens to him and all agape,
While refusing to stir at all!

The bear sits on top of a rock,
With predictions of gloom and doom,
Counting numbers on his abacus,
For whoever cares to listen!

The elk retires to a corner,
With a rosary in his hand,
But butts in with an opinion,
When he can't bear what's going on!

The eagle watches from afar,
Missing nothing that's going on,
Every now and then he weighs in,
With his acerbic opinions!

That's just some of the denizens,
We meet them all when we come,
Always battling and making up,
Strutting and preening for no reason!

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Second Wave

It hits those the hardest,
Who were the most afraid;
It spares all of the rest,
Who neither knew nor cared!

In a broad swathe it mows,
Where the defences were built,
Leaving places untouched,
Where people were out and about!

Danger is best encountered,
Frontally, face to face;
Those who seek to run and hide,
Often pay a heavy  price!

Some there are who believed,
In a magic potion,
Boiled up by some druid,
For indomitable strength!

As the second wave gathers,
A crazy momentum,
Everyone tries to hide - 
There are no lessons learnt!

On Debt Investments

Was just going through the category-wise performance of mutual funds over the last five years.

Across all categories of debt funds - short, medium and long durations; or  dynamic bond  \ corporate bond funds, the five year CAGR ( Compounded Annual Growth Rate) is very close to 8 percent. 

In other words, there is no additional return for additional risk.

This is a good validation of what is obvious about the debt market in india, and, to reiterate:

Choose only the lowest risk funds. Additional risk is not worth it.

Lowest risk means any of the following:

1. Short duration, ultra short duration, and liquid funds. The credit risk is lower due the lower tenor, and there is no interest rate risk either since they are such short-maturity instruments.

2. Banking and PSU funds, not because the companies are anything great, but because mai baap sarkaar will not allow them to default. But watch out, these funds also invest in scrips like Yes Bank sometimes.

3. Government Bond funds, where the credit risk is zero (by definition, and not because we trust the sarkaar - never trust the sarkaar is a good motto to follow :-) ). But these funds typically play on duration. In a scenario where interest rates are moving up, you could be exposed to interest-rate risk. 

Always hold debt funds for more than three years. That way, you get the benefit of indexation and of the special rate of 20 percent, making the effective tax rate close to five percent or thereabouts.

Fixed Deposits yield similar returns as debt funds.

Bank FD's are: 

1. Counter intuitively , inherently riskier than debt funds, due to lack of diversification.

2. Wherever you get more rate ( say Cooperative bank) is exactly where you should not invest :-)

3. Banks are the riskiest places on earth as far as parking your money is concerned, but again mai baap sarkaar to the rescue, they will not allow the big  banks (public sector banks, icici, hdfc and a handful of others only) to collapse - the illusion of stability of that piece of Maya called economy requires banks to be kept alive even if in coma.

4. FD's are tax inefficient. Hugely so. It is only fine for someone whose income from other sources is not much. FD's are ok up to an amount of  say seventy to eighty lakhs, since the interest earned annually on that amount will fall  in the zero or lowest tax slab.

PF, PPF and Voluntary PF are always good options in debt too. UHSP's (ultra high salaried people) were taking advantage of mai baap sarkaar by investing huge amounts in VPF. Even without 80C benefit, they were earning 8 plus percent, tax free, with sarkaari guarantee. It was too good to last of course - auntie FM, who cannot tolerate to see anyone happy, plugged that loophole in the last budget. A couple of my UHSP friends went on a drinking binge after the budget (in a star hotel of course), they were so depressed. I commiserated with them in return for free booze.

To summarise: 

In the Indian market, debt is priced such that taking higher risk does not yield higher return. So, stick to safe options, when it comes to Debt Mutual Funds.

When it comes to Bank FD's , stick to public sector banks, and / or the top private sector banks. Also, for tax reasons, if you have other sources of income, avoid FD's altogether.
And, unless you are very very sure about the company / promoter group, avoid investing directly in corporate deposits. They also have the additional disadvantage of being tax inefficient, since their tax treatment is the same as that for FD's.

I was about to end  saying  Happy Investing, but there is nothing happy about investing nowadays.

So, park your money, grit your teeth, and hang on. Acche din zaroor aayenge!

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Bharatiyar Poem Nenju Porukkuthilaiye

Subramaniya Bharathi, poet laureate of Tamil, wrote this poem a hundred years back.


What he said then, remains true even today.


Given below is my attempt at translating Bharatjiyar, in verse. Tamil Pundits may please excuse any shortcomings in the translation.




POEM: Nenju Porukkuthilaiye

On the plight of my countrymen

By: Subramaniya Bharathi,


Oh! My heart cannot bear to see,

The state of these misguided people,

They are afraid of everything,

Fear is what every day kills them!


There are ghosts staying in the trees,

On top of houses, in the lakes -

These thoughts torment their waking dreams,

Feed the fears that keep them awake!


A thousand miseries they fear,

From wizards lurking everywhere,

The threat of witchcraft's always near,

The threat of Black Magic is real!


They praise all the rulers of the world,

For the gifts they receive from them,

Knowing well the politics behind,

Their self-seeking munificence!


They run at sight of a soldier,

Even a single man with a gun,

Cower in their houses in fear,

They let cowardice rule their lives!


They are always subservient,

Obsequious to every passer-by,

Stand with hands folded and backs bent,

Fear, not respect, is what makes them bow!


Oh! My heart cannot bear to see,

The state of these misguided people,

Are their divisions few in number?

In thousand ways they divide themselves!


A fiction of five-headed snake,

Invents the father to sow discord,

The son rises in righteous rage,

It's six heads, or it's off with yours!


Uncaring for the real Wisdom,

Or what the scriptures have to say,

They heed fake priests of a new God,

Attack those with whom they used to stay!


The fall prey to their false prayers,

Chanted in order to lure them –

Claim that only their God is real,

Turn upon their brethren, abuse them!


This, my heart cannot bear to see,

But I can't turn away in disgust,

They're struggling for their daily bread,

Unknowing, being ground into the dust!


Used to their endless privations,

They are starving themselves to death,

Suffering from a myriad ailments,

They refuse to support themselves!


Like the blind men who are helpless,

They choose to follow and be led,

Walk into the traps laid for them,

By those who lead with bad intent!


In this wealthy country of mine,

Rich in its arts and all its skills,

Is there no way I can help them,

Who live like homeless animals?


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Male or Female?

I always knew I had a gender,
Which used to be assigned at birth,
Ninety nine point nine percent end up,
Being male or female, but not both!

Or either, or neither, or none,
We could have just lumped them as them,
And not, in name of inclusion,
Cast doubts into the rest of us!

The more things are certain it's good,
In a volatile uncertain world,
How can the ship stay in place,
If every breeze is a storm!

The anchors are being thrown overboard,
Like babies with the bathwater,
Time we stopped listening to the woke crowd,
They are the ones most intolerant!

Time to go back to the basics,
And call a spade a spade,
Let's just check your plumbing mate,
To decide if you're male or female!